With influences ranging from Siouxsie and the Banshees to Tom Waits and Journey, Los Angeles-based emcee Gershwin Hutchinson a.k.a. Blackbird has styles aplenty. You may know Blackbird as a member of the psychedelic hip-hop group Dark Leaf (produced at times by Cut Chemist), or from his stellar vocal performance on Omid's seminal Beneath The Surface compilation, released to worldwide acclaim in 1998. Since then, Blackbird's path has taken him from the back alleys of Skid Row to the back rooms of Hollywood elite nightlife.
In the process, Blackbird has been documenting his journeys in the form of spoken word poetry and recorded albums. Without a doubt, his creative relationship with esteemed L.A. producer Paris Zax (known for his work with the likes of Busdriver and the Shape Shifters) has granted Blackbird access to some of the best instrumentals over which to deliver his message. Their first collaborative album Fetterless, released in 2003, was duped on CD-Rs and began a buzz for Blackbird in the L.A. underground. Shortly thereafter, the idea was spawned for a new album, to continue the documentation of Blackbird's intriguing saga.
"Bird's Eye View, like anything I do, is basically a chronology of me. On this album, you can hear what I like, what I'm like now, and what I want to be," explains Blackbird. The themes on Bird's Eye View include fear, sex, drug use, love, humor, and how they intersect in Blackbird's chaotic life. Paris Zax delivers carefully sculpted beats that mix perfectly with Blackbird's vocal performances. The result is extremely cinematic, tightly woven and wonderfully engaging.
On tracks like "Glamourous Drunk," the storytelling is so vivid that you feel as though you're having a Denny's breakfast with Blackbird while recounting the tales of the night before ("Too tired to think/I just need another drink/to settle the nerves/some herb to chill/a pill to sleep/and creep into the membranes"). Another stand-out track, "No Belief" references the likes of Rembrandt, Rimbaud and Charles Bukowski, all the while exploring Blackbird's inner demons ("I have this hate that's out for me/that's spawned from inside me"). The graphic depiction continues on songs like "Hella Ride" ("As she writhes like a snake/in the sand that's hot/from the heat to the skin/from the tongue as I'm sprung/in her pearl in the cove").
With the release of Bird's Eye View, expect to see Blackbird performing at a nightclub near you, as well as keeping up with life: "Just remaining open to the universe for direction. I basically make music that I wish that I could hear, but no one is doing it. Also in hopes that someone else was thinking the same thing, and was waiting for someone to do it." Amen to that.
(photo: courtesy Alpha Pup Records)